Interview: Robert Kenner, Director of “Food, Inc.”

MANUFACTURED CONSUMPTION: INTERVIEW WITH FILMMAKER ROBERT KENNER
by Jessica Baxter

The opening sentiment to “Food, Inc.” asserts that the way we eat has changed more drastically in the last fifty years than in the last 10,000. This has a lot to do with population growth and scientific advancement, but mostly it can be attributed to the invention of fast food. The McDonald brothers, with their “bigger, faster, cheaper” business plan, turned food into a corporation – an evil corporation, at that. Big Food controls every aspect of our eating lives from what we can afford to how much we know about where our food came from. Because of their ties to government, abhorrent labor practices go un-policed. Inspections are insufficient to nonexistent, and the lack of proper scrutiny has led to E.Coli outbreaks and death. Perhaps worst of all, people are unable to speak out for fear of a lawsuit.

Not even Oprah is safe. In 1996, during the Mad Cow Disease outbreak, Oprah stated on her show that it has “stopped [her] cold from eating another hamburger.” She was subsequently sued for libel by a group of Texas cattlemen. She’s since settled the suit but not after spending piles of money on what is essentially a First Amendment case. The average person certainly can’t afford those legal fees. And since we can’t just stop eating, it seems like there’s nothing we can do about it.

But “Food, Inc.” director Robert Kenner is optimistic. If we make some changes to our purchasing and eating habits – buy locally and organically and avoid processed and fast food – we can force the hand of the Big Food by employing a concept that even a capitalist can understand: supply and demand.

I recently chatted with Kenner about the hardships he faced making the film and the impact he thinks it will have on America and the food industry. Continue reading

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